With a championship ring on his finger, Liam Gross knows that he can win the big games when called upon. After helping the Rockets Hockey Club to its first USPHL Premier National Championship last March, the ‘02 from Fort Washington, Pa., is hoping he can bring the same winning pedigree to Buffalo State College, members of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). Gross will report just after Christmas and be eligible to play NCAA games beginning in January.
“I first started talking to Buffalo State in early September. The coaches like my ability to play the puck and that I am aggressive, yet smart, with it,” said Gross, who is 7-2-1 this season and went 9-0 in the 2022 playoffs last winter and spring. “They also like my size and the fact that I’ve played and competed at extremely high levels.
“Being from Philadelphia, I love the fact that the school is in the city and how close the school is to Canada. I have only been to Ottawa and would love to see more,” said Gross. “Academically I’m looking forward to studying business and getting an MBA. And as for the hockey, I am excited to join a winning culture with deep roots!”
Since being named Bengals Head Coach in 2015, Steve Murphy has kept Buffalo State above .500 on average, including three very strong seasons of 15 up to 18 wins in his first three years. It’s a program, a culture and a campus that Gross can’t wait to become part of.
“I did visit campus and I love the sports facilities. They’re anything an athlete could hope for. But my favorite part is the brick buildings. I love how beautiful the campus is!” Gross said. “But what made me make my commitment was the coaching staff and the players I met when I was there. It also helps that one of my closest friends Chris Blango is a freshman defenseman on the team.”
Gross was a late season acquisition for the Rockets last year but he grabbed the reins in the playoffs as a near unknown as the Rockets barreled their way to the top of the Premier Conference.
“I have absolutely loved my time as a member of the Rockets Hockey Club. It has been an honor to put on that jersey and play for the best coach you could ask for, Jason Kilcoyne!” said Gross. “The cherry on top was winning the championship last year. That was a special group of people and players. I loved every second!”
Gross has been happy to hone his skills since last winter in a division with some of the traditional top powers such as the New York Aviators and Utica Jr. Comets, a group bolstered by a powerful Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights organization that joined just last year.
“Again, I really enjoyed my time in this league. There are a lot of very talented hockey players up and down every roster in the league. Every game is a battle and it’s anyone’s game every time we get out there,” he added. “Winning that championship last year was the best feeling in the world! Only a select few people get to win a junior championship and accomplishing that feat is something I’ll never forget.”
It’s not just the winning culture at Bridgewater Sports Arena that has given Gross so many golden memories and great friends. It’s also the work ethic and attention to detail within the developmental aspect of the Rockets organization that has helped turn Gross into an NCAA goalie.
“I think the developmental aspect of RHC is fantastic. We have so much ice available to us in the mornings and we practice every day of the week. I have been able to run goalie training sessions for myself for the last year and it’s done wonders!” said Gross. “The club also added goalie coach Shane Clifford (“Cliffy”), who is one of the best in the game. He’s a huge help!
“For the remainder of my time at RHC, I’m going to work on my body positioning and angle recognition to prepare myself for school in just a few weeks,” said Gross. “I believe mastering these two portions of my craft will give me ample opportunity to make an impact as soon as I get there!”
For those interested in learning more about the Rockets Hockey Club, reach out to Coach Jason Kilcoyne at [email protected].
The USPHL congratulates Liam Gross, his family, the Rockets Hockey Club and Buffalo State for his commitment.